Oh boy, there are a lot of wedding photographers out there aren’t there? Or at least, there are a lot of photographers out there that claim to be good right? I have seen some really terrible shots, and hideous wedding photos, from people who are charging premium prices for their work.
There are many really talented photographers out there, who are not getting the work. So why is this? It can be put down to one simple fact.
Let us ponder this point for a moment: If you do not know how to market yourself, then you may be the most talented photographer in the world, but you will remain a very talented, and unemployed photographer. Here are some key points to help you on your way to success as a wedding photographer.
Get Good Quality Printed Material
Nothing says, “I’m awesome” like some really great, good quality printed marketing material. The fact that you are able to produce such good quality material, inspires confidence and trust in your potential customers. Get the best that you can afford. You do not need 1000 brochures, or business postcards etc Quality rather than quantity is paramount if you are to court the right kind of clientele.
Some suggested items include: High gloss promotional postcards, business cards of at least 300gsm (gsm indicates the weight of the paper), glossy tri-fold brochures.
Be Clever with Where You Target your Printed Material
The most obvious place to leave a business card (along with 1000 other budding photographers) are bridal emporiums.
This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t leave a business card there, but try at least to build a rapport with the staff when you visit, so that you are more memorable than the other 999 photographers who walked in before you.
Feel free to offer them an incentive if the client books you as a result of getting your card/flyer/brochure/post card from them. A simple gift certificate will often suffice. If you do not feel comfortable doing this, then at least reward them if you receive a booking from them anyway – flowers and a box of chocolates are always appreciated, and you can be sure that you will be recommended again.
You can even offer to photograph some of their merchandise, and offer to reciprocate the referral to any brides who approach you, who may not have heard of their particular bridal shop.
If a bride is referred to you by a particular bridal shop, then it is an absolutely wonderful idea to take the bridal shop some of the photographs (displaying their merchandise on the bride) after the wedding. They will be so appreciative to see the end result and it will give them something concrete to show future customers proof of your photographic skill!
Other suggested places to take marketing material include: Premier Wedding Venues, Fabric shops (who specialise in wedding/evening dress fabrics), hair salons (hair stylists are chatty by nature, and if you can get them to talk about you – even better!), wedding planners, event planners etc.
Advertise in Local Business Directories
Sometimes simple is best! Often a local yellow pages (sometimes called white pages in some parts of the world), will have a special ‘pink’ bridal section.
For most brides, they may not know where to start looking for wedding vendors, and the yellow pages is an often overlooked advertising medium for photographers (our local yellow pages does not have one single listing for a childrens portrait photographer) which could be a potential gold mine if you place the right advertisement at the right time.
Remember that yellow pages get delivered free of charge to all homes and businesses with a listed telephone number – hello!
Join a Local Business Network
Local business networks operate in most major cities, and often have suburban chapters. In many cases they will only permit one person of each profession to join (e.g. one real estate agent, one lawyer, one optometrist, one graphic designer etc), so try to find one that either doesn’t have wedding photographer, or photographer at all, or is a new chapter and looking to increase its membership.
They usually meet once a week at a local coffee shop or restaurant, over breakfast, and the meeting allows members to speak about their businesses for 3-5 minutes each (depending on how large the membership is) and then to exchange referrals. e.g. the graphic designer is working on a the invitations for a wedding, and has promoted your services to the bridal couple, and they then pass on the contact details of the bridal couple for you to contact, and showcase your work to.
Be More Versatile in Your Work
Most photographers do not just shoot weddings. When I started out it was in the Sports Action genre, particularly Equestrian photography, and my very first wedding client, was one of the riders who had always liked and purchased the sports photographs that I had taken of her, and asked me if I would shoot her wedding.
It was the perfect opportunity to cut my teeth in a new direction, a small family wedding at home, and it was a huge boost to my confidence when the photos were so well received.
Remember wedding clients can be found anywhere, even in the current economic climate, people are still getting married, and still have wedding budgets so there is no reason not to go out marketing with all guns blazing as normal.
Network with Other Photographers
Believe it or not, other photographers can be your greatest source of work. Have you ever wondered what would happen, if you booked a wedding client, and then the day before the wedding you were suddenly involved in a car accident? What if you were unable to show up and shoot the wedding? Can you imagine the brides dismay when they’ve probably paid you a hefty deposit, and you suddenly can’t produce?
That’s why it’s best to have back up at every wedding you shoot. Offer another photographer a chance to shoot alongside you, or act as runner, or equipment set up person. Chances are they will do the same for you. If you are suddenly hurt, or unable to shoot for whatever reason, then they can cover the wedding for you.
Just make sure you have clear rules and boundaries regarding who shoots what, who edits, and who gets paid what before you even begin. Most photographers will have a network of photographers with whom they work well together, and it makes it very easy, and smooth if something should happen to go wrong.
It’s a good selling point to your potential clients if you are able to reassure them that even if something happens to you, that they have nothing to worry about, and someone will be there to shoot their wedding.
Lastly, Bridal Magazines
While this may seem the obvious choice, advertising in high end magazines is a very expensive though fruitful option. The exposure is good, the readership is huge, and it will in all likelihood yield a great number of bookings for you.
However, it is probably an avenue best left to the wedding photographer who has already made an impact on the local industry, and is just looking to keep exposure and name to a maximum, and perhaps to begin to take bookings on a national or international level.
The best of luck to you with your wedding photography marketing efforts.